Travelling New Zealand by car or campervan
gives you the ultimate freedom to go where you want when you want and allows you to truly
tailor your trip to your needs. However, there are loads of little things that make the difference
between a huge road trip full of excitement and a cent-counting nightmare. We’ll go
through all of that in this video on 21 ways to save money on car and campervan rental
in New Zealand. Hi guys, we’re Robin and Laura, the team
behind BackpackerGuide.NZ, helping you plan an epic trip to New Zealand.
In this video we’re giving you exactly 21 ways to save money on your car or campervan
rental. You will find that prices differ widely between rental companies due to a variety
of factors. On top of your base rental rate, all the little extras add up at the end of
a road trip. And sometimes the cheapest option is not necessarily the best option. So stick
around until the end of this list of awesome tips so you are well-prepared to compare your
vehicle rental options. And by the way, our first tip should be to
hit the subscribe button. We publish heaps of tips every week to help you make the most
of your trip in New Zealand so go ahead and hit the red subscribe button below this video
right now! And with that, let’s get on with the list!
Number 1 to save money on rentals in New Zealand, travel in the shoulder and off seasons!
It’s obvious: in summer, everybody wants a camper but in winter, the demand is much
lower. May is traditionally the cheapest month to hire a vehicle in New Zealand across the
board. As well as car rentals being cheaper in the
shoulder season, the nature is all the more lively, and the crowds are in the Northern
Hemisphere. It’s literally like having the whole country to yourself! Book your car rental
between March and October and you are likely to pay 30-50% less!
For more reasons to travel in these seasons, check out our 11 Reasons to Travel in the
Shoulder and Off-Season in New Zealand linked up in the description below.
Number 2, Book early! This one comes as no surprise as well. Early
bookings are often rewarded with early bird discount or simply a lower overall rate, while
last-minute bookings suffer from the lack of stock and give you less choice for a higher
price. 3. Book Direct!
Start your new adventure the simple way and talk directly with your car rental company.
Booking directly with a rental company as opposed to through an agent or a comparison
website will ensure that you get the best rates that the company has to offer. If you
find the rate cheaper elsewhere, chances are the rental company will match it.
This advice is true for every type of travel booking from hostels to activities to transportation.
Get more advice on the subject in our Booking advice article in the description.
Number 4. Play around with your booking dates. Sometimes there will be one or two days on
either side of your preferred booking date that are cheaper. Make sure to play around
your booking dates to find the best combo of dates that will make sense money wise.
Having flexible travel dates can make a real difference to your car rental cost. It also
applies when booking your flights so keep that in mind.
Number 5. Pick the right Pick-up and Drop-Off time.
Some companies will charge for each extra hour that you keep the car, some will charge
you for an extra day, and some will not consider the return hour in their pricing at all. This
can make a huge difference when picking up your car at 9am instead of 4pm or giving it
back at 5pm instead of 10am. Make sure to consider this when comparing car and campervan
rental companies. 6. Pick up your car only when you are ready
to drive off. When landing in New Zealand, you’ll probably
be jet-lagged or at least exhausted by the 20+ hour flight. Make sure to schedule your
car pick-up for when you are ready to drive off, let’s say 11am the next morning. This
can save you a day rental or at least a few hours with some companies.
Number 7. Choose a small car. Selecting a small car or campervan can truly
make a huge impact on your rental cost. From the obvious fact that they are cheaper to
rent to the long-term fact that they use much less fuel, picking a small vehicle is just
a smart choice. So sit down and evaluate what you truly need and how big do you really need
your car to be. Also, keep an eye out for the year and make
of the vehicle. And older vehicle will have a much higher fuel consumption. For advice
on types of vehicles to rent, see What is the Best Type of Vehicle to Rent in New Zealand
linked up in the description below. Number 8. Monitor pricing regularly.
Prices will vary depending on availability and some routes may even become much cheaper
in some seasons. For instance, around the end of summer, most car and campervans have
been dropped off on the South Island, so picking a route from south to north may save you a
few hundred bucks. 9. Look out for deals.
From a ski pass, free cave entry, even a 15% discount for hires longer than 30 days, there
are all kinds of deals out there, especially in the shoulder and off-season, which again
is between March and October. Keep an eye open for what’s going on by checking the
blog, discount, deals or specials tabs of the car rental company websites that you are
researching and even BackpackerGuide.NZ where we list heaps of deals.
10. Avoid one-way booking fees. In many cases when hiring a car or campervan
in a location and dropping it off in a different location, you will be charged a one-way fee.
Look for routes that do not have a one-way fee. For instance, it’s often when going
south to north. Or make your itinerary a loop to make a huge saving.
Extra tip though – we actually compare a few companies on BackpackerGuide.NZ that don’t
charge a one-way fee at all. We’ll link to all those comparison articles in the description
below. Number 11. Be aware of the youngest driver’s
age. There is always a limit, from 18 years old,
which is the youngest age somebody can hire a car in New Zealand, to 25 years old. The
youngest driver’s age can impact pricing in two major ways: first, the daily price
of the vehicle rental, and second, the daily insurance cost. So be aware of that if any
of the people driving the car or campervan is under 25 years old.
We have more information on renting a car for young drivers linked up in the description.
Number 12. Browse your insurance options. Most rental companies have standard insurance
included in their daily rental rate, but will always push for you to upgrade your insurance.
Some rental companies have reasonable insurance options and some even have them capped so
you are not charged for the whole 60 days. On the other hand, some companies have outrageous
insurance fees. Include insurance in your consideration when comparing prices. And consider
their excess. Is spending an extra $500 really worth reducing your excess from $3000 to $2000?
Keep your credit card policy in mind too. Many of credit card policies include car rental
cover if you book it with your credit card. Number 13. Keep an eye out for an additional
driver’s fee. One car: one driver. That’s the policy of
most companies. For some, adding an extra driver simply requires you to fill in their
details when booking your car. For others, it incurs an extra daily fee. Any daily fee
added to a rental, as small as it is, can really weigh a lot on a budget, so keep that
in mind when deciding who’s driving. 14. Bring your own GPS.
It is common in New Zealand to charge from 5 to 10 dollars per day for a GPS. Although
a GPS is incredibly convenient, you can use Google Maps on your phone or download a detailed
GPS map of New Zealand from any named brand GPS for just a couple of bucks. You can even
buy a suction cup to hold you phone while driving from Amazon for super cheap!
A word of warning about using a GPS in New Zealand though. Before you set off, take a
look at the suggested route via the satellite image just to make sure it’s not taking
you on any dodgy logging roads. Google Maps especially tries to take you on the quickest
route but not necessarily the safest. Number 15. Watch out for all the upgrades.
Solar showers, camping chairs, snowchains… all the upgrades come at high flat rates or
extra daily costs. We recommend skipping them and buying your own from local stores like
K-Mart or Warehouse. They should only set you back a fraction of the cost that a car
rental company would charge you. You may even be able to sell them back through one of our
backpacking Facebook groups that we’ll link up in the description.
As for the WiFi hotspots, check out our cellphone related articles for big savings. Guess what?
They’re linked up in the description. Number 16. Avoid airport pick-ups.
Traditionally, picking a car up at the airport is slightly more expensive than picking it
up in a suburb or city location, so double check it when booking your car or campervan
by changing your pick up location from Auckland Airport to Auckland City, for example.
17. Remember to refuel the car. Like everywhere in the world, you will pick
up a car full of fuel and should give it back full of fuel. Make sure to do so or face being
charged with a refuelling fee plus the cost of fuel – not a great way to finish your
road trip. 18. Do not fuel up your car at the airport
On the same note as 17, when refuelling your car or simply when fuelling up along the way,
make sure to avoid pump stations located near airports. Those are notorious for having the
highest price tag, with some reports mentioning a difference of over 30%!
And an extra tip: Keep you receipts after going to the supermarket, as they usually
include a fuel discount voucher. Number 19. Go through the car inspection thoroughly.
Take the pre-hire car inspection seriously and write down any damage that you notice
as you might end up being liable for them when returning your car.
Every car rental has a small diagram of the vehicle along with your paperwork where you
can mark down what and where you noticed damage prior to taking the vehicle for hire.
Number 20. Consider Car Relocation. Car rental is a big business in New Zealand
and the vehicle flow is extremely uneven around the country. For this reason, car rental companies
need their vehicles moved around the country at a fast pace. They will often offer 3 days
rental plus the ferry cost for those willing to take a vehicle from Christchurch to Auckland,
for example. We have a full page dedicated on Car Relocation in New Zealand on BackpackerGuide.NZ
so you can learn more about it. And finally, Number 21. Travel with friends.
A road trip is best enjoyed with a group of friends. Should it be your childhood best
friends, the love of your life, or a perfect stranger found on one of our Facebook groups,
you are bound to create lifelong memories on the road with your travel buddies. Share
adventures, laughs and hopefully good music along the most scenic roads of New Zealand,
while splitting the bills 2, 3 or even 4 ways so you can spend more on awesome adventures.
So that’s it for our 21 Ways to Save Money on Car and Campervan Rental in New Zealand!
We hope it’s given you loads of good tips, but if you want to find out more about car
rentals, check out our Car Rental video guide linked up in the description and also ask
us questions in the comments! We’ll be stoked to answer them for you!
And don’t you dare miss New Zealand’s Biggest Gap Year where we’re doing 365 activities
in 365 days in New Zealand! It’s the perfect bucket list inspiration and another great
reason to hit subscribe. Until next time, keep exploring!